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ERIC Number: EJ818038
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Mar
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 17
ISSN: ISSN-0957-5146
Early Years Teachers and the Influence of Piaget: Evidence from Oral History
Cunningham, Peter
Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development, v26 n1 p5-16 Mar 2006
In studying the historical development of early years provision, a clear factor in raising its profile was the growth in scientific study of children, especially the reception and interpretation of Piaget's research. For an understanding of how the mediation of new thinking and new discoveries influenced students and teachers, textbooks provide an important documentary source, but evidence is also available through oral history in the living memories of practitioners themselves. This paper draws on the testimony of early years teachers who began their careers between 1927 and 1955 and continued teaching into the 1960s and 1970s. The account below begins with reflections on psychology and education in the early decades of the twentieth century drawn from a 1936 conference organised by the Nursery School Association of Great Britain, and from a widely used textbook that represents the gradual trend towards "fragmentation" of educational theory into a multiplicity of disciplines. Reference is then made to two popular textbooks by prominent Froebelians, Brearley and Hitchfield, and by Ruth Beard illustrating the growing influence of Piaget as a "post facto" rationale for a pedagogy that was proceeding by instinct. Walkerdine, Lister and Hall are researchers who have investigated from various angles the impact of Piagetian psychology on primary practice, but the process whereby this translation from the laboratory to the classroom takes place is one that demands further investigation. Vital evidence lies in the living memories of early years teachers whose careers spanned the 1930s to the 1970s and a rich quality and personal texture of the data is apparent as retired early years teachers recounted their professional careers. It offers a more complex account than the grand narratives that historians have traditionally compiled from purely documentary evidence centring on great thinkers, key texts and policy initiatives. The role of in-service education was clearly important in the experiences recalled in this paper. Above all we find evidence of a distinctive shift in teacher-child relationships over that historical period and of the contribution made to this by psychological theory, epitomised in the figure of Piaget and in his focus on the individual learner. (Contains 6 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Great Britain)